England U20 name team to face Australia

Jun 7 • General News, International • 1092 Views • Comments Off on England U20 name team to face Australia

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England has named their side for the final pool game of the 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship in Georgia (5.30pm BST, live on the World Rugby Facebook page/highlights on ITV4).

The U20s have so far recorded two bonus-point victories and next face Australia as they look to gain qualification into the semi-finals of the tournament.

Zach Mercer captains the side from number eight, while there is a first start for wing Paolo Odogwu.

“It’s been a short turnaround but training has been good and we’ve worked hard off the field more importantly,” said England U20 head coach Ian Vass. “We’re confident in what we’re trying to achieve and that’s to get into a World Rugby U20 Championship semi-final.

“The competition is getting better with every game so we need to improve also and that’s what we’ve tried to achieve in training. If we perform as we can, the result will take care of itself.”

England has beaten Samoa and Wales so far in Georgia and victory will guarantee a place in the last four of the tournament.

Two members of last year’s winning World Rugby U20 Championship side, Harry Randall and Max Malins, start at scrum-half and fly-half.

Gabriel Ibitoye, who has four tries from two games in the tournament, again plays on the wing while Theo Brophy Clews also starts at centre.

Bath’s Darren Atkins is among the replacements and he could make his first appearance of the 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship, while Odogwu starts on the wing having been called up as an injury replacement for Ali Crossdale.

“It’s a really big opportunity for Paolo, he has played to a high level all year,” said Vass.

“He’s played in the Premiership so is highly capable and an exciting player. We want to try and get him on the ball because he is a good finisher and a dangerous attacking player.”

Australia is also unbeaten in the tournament and the two sides met each other in last year’s tournament at the same stage.

“Our aim is to win the game and if we do that we’re in the semi-final, but our primary concern is on performing well and beating Australia,” added Vass.

“They are tactically astute so we need to be on our toes as a team and react as well as adapt to whatever they are doing. They have had two tough games and have shown a mental edge to come through them.”

Wing Sam Aspland-Robinson has been ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury and Vass paid tribute to the Harlequins back.

“It’s hugely disappointing for Sam who has made a great contribution both in this tournament and for the U20s,” said Vass. “We’re also disappointed to be losing a player of his quality.”

England U20 team to face Australia:
15. Tom Parton (London Irish)
14. Paolo Odogwu (Sale Sharks)
13. Will Butler (Worcester Warriors)
12. Theo Brophy Clews (London Irish)
11. Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
10. Max Malins (Saracens)
9. Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby)
1. Ollie Dawe (Bristol Rugby)
2. Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby)
3. Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs)
4. Josh Caulfield (Exeter Chiefs)
5. Jack Nay (Saracens)
6. Dino Lamb (Harlequins)
7. Ben Earl (Saracens)
8. Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby) captain
16. Joe Mullis (Gloucester Rugby)
17. Ralph Adams-Hale (Saracens)
18. Ciaran Knight (Gloucester Rugby)
19. Justin Clegg (Worcester Warriors)
20. Max Davies (Newcastle Falcons)
21. Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby)
22. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints)
23. Darren Atkins (Bath Rugby)

England’s 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship fixtures:
England 74 v 14 Samoa: Wednesday 31 May – Avchala Stadium
England 34 v 22 Wales: Sunday 4 June – Avchala Stadium
England v Australia: Thursday 8 June –  Avchala Stadium (5:30 pm KO BST)
Semi-finals and knock-out matches (Tuesday 13 June) Details TBC
Final and knock-out matches (Sunday 18 June) Details TBC

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